Read this interview with this Iranian ‘diplomat’ (Iran has a habit of appointing terrorists and ‘former’ terrorists to its diplomatic core, certainly in South America) especially the last question and answer.
Hamid Mohammadi, the “Cultural Counselor” of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)’s Ottawa Embassy, was interviewed by Iran’s press agency about Iranians living in Canada. Following is a translation of the text from the original Persian.
The Islamic republic of Iran should be prevented from propagating ” their” so called “Islamic” culture in Canada. Iranians are Iranian no matter if they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Buddhist, agnostic or atheist.
Shabnam Assadollahi and Shadi Paveh
Interview with Mr. Hamid Mohammadi, representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Office of Cultural and Foreign Affairs of Iran, in Ottawa
Question1: Mr Mohammadi, I want to thank you very much for giving us the time for this interview. Could you kindly inform us about the total Iranian population in Canada today?
Answer: I can tell you that according to our statistical studies, the Iranian population in Canada is approximately 500,000. Of course, this number is most likely higher due to the arrival of new students from Iran and the birthrate within this group.
Q2: Could you tell us about the cultural, social and economic situation of Iranians residing in Canada?
A: Studies have shown the status of Iranians immigrating to Canada differs from immigrants from other countries with regard to living conditions and social status. As a result of Canadian immigration laws, the spectrum of Iranian immigrants consists of highly educated individuals of high social standing.
Q3: Mr. Mohammadi can you please explain to us the differences between Iranian immigrants and those of other countries?
A: I can tell you that Iranian immigrants have certain characteristics that set them apart from other immigrants in Canada.
First, although they are not that different in their demographic profiles, more than 60% of recent immigrants are specialists and scholars. These individuals have decisively preserved their strong attachments and bonds to their homeland.
Second, if there is one major distinguishing factor that separates the Islamic-Iranian culture from the rest, it is their resistance to being absorbed and digested by the dominant culture. On the other hand, these same immigrants, compared to other immigrants of similar type, are rather malleable and more easily influenced by overpowering and dominant cultures. For this reason, the Iranian immigrants are easily affected by the overpowering and dominant Canadian society. There are many different reasons for this, and the source of this could be the subject of another report and interview.
Q4: What is the education status of Iranian residents/immigrants?
A: As previously mentioned, Iranian residents are, in the main, highly educated, a significant number of students studying for doctorates and a noteworthy number of Iranians teaching in research facilities. As an example, an Iranian holds the position of Dean in one of the most important technical universities in Canada (University of Waterloo).
Q5: What is the job situation for Iranian immigrants?
A: In this area, I must say that, even though first-generation immigrants have very advanced educations, it is the case that the want of positions and the times, means they are holding respectable but non-governmental jobs, primarily in service and trade and less frequently in universities and so forth. The younger second generation, is working in influential government positions in Canada.
Q6: How close are the Iranians here to their national culture? In particular, how familiar are the third-generation immigrants with spoken Farsi?
A: One of the characteristics of the Iranians is their attachment to their culture and Iranian identity. This characteristic is more prominent in Iranians residing in Canada for reasons I mentioned previously. Cultural and artistic gatherings, poetry recitals, celebrations, Islamic and cultural centers and Persian language schools are a few significant examples of this large population’s love of their culture.
Q7: In your opinion, how important is learning to speak Farsi for the children of the immigrants?
A: Generally, preserving one’s culture is vital to immigrants while living in a country of mixed culture, and refraining from becoming a person of dual double culture, is most important. Even first-generation Iranians, who grow up in their homeland and are fully familiar with their cultural identity, feel that they still need continuous cultural programs. It appears that the newer generations are alienated from their culture and their motherland’s religion, the only key to their connection being the Farsi language. Since the only point of entry into the Iranian culture and identity for the third-generation Iranians, is their mother tongue, the Farsi language is of utmost importance.
Q8: How affected are Iranians in Canada, in particular third or even further removed generations, by Canadian social media?
A: As we all know, media has a huge influence. Besides watching many things in the Canadian media, both in English and French, Iranian residents also spend a lot of their time watching Iranian programs by satellite, in both US and Canada, these being influential. So, we need to put more effort into implementing more culturally healthy programs of benefit to the Islamic-Iranian culture.
Q9: What is the biggest problem and worry for the third-generation Iranians?
A: As we know, immigration has its own particular problems and difficulties. Everyday hardships in life can really affect people. Lack of cultural, social and economic knowledge can cause feelings of defeat and loss of self-worth in this group. As a result of not having the proper experience, along with the lack of access to proper channels, many take jobs outside their specialty. This causes low self-esteem and results in psychological and social problems. For instance, many who were doctors or engineers of high social standing in Iran, have had to be working in areas such as real estate, automotive sales or even as taxi drivers, in order to survive here. This can cause emotional imbalance amongst the Iranian immigrants and leads to psychological problems that can bring about spousal separations.
The high rate of divorce is a common and serious problem among young Iranian couples in Canada. The main reason for this is that Canada’s marriage and divorce laws differ from other countries’, the weakness of the family unit in Canada, plus the couples’ not knowing each other and Iranian couples’ having no centers for mediation, to seek advice for their differences.
Another problem for Iranians residing in Canada, is weak community unity and lack of organizations, unions and other social groups with like-minded individuals. Although they share the same language, they lack a certain understanding of each other. Perhaps the reason for this is the lack of knowledge or skills that are needed for social networking.
The lack of familiarity with family laws and the family’s inability to master and control its children, is another problem of some of the Iranian residents, this leading to the children’s leaving home and going to live in foster care and then this unhealthy environment leads the child to have irreversible behavioral problems which can affect the family.
The Iranian community lacks unity and togetherness. They are the opposite of immigrants from other countries who, through their numerous social gatherings, obtain information about their rights and the laws and thus can access those avenues; Iranians avoid unity at all cost.
Moving away from Iranian nationalism, language and literature and becoming a person with two cultures, is a problem facing Iranians, particularly those of the third generation.
Q10: How is the relationship between the Iranian residents, the Consulate and the Embassy of Iran?
A: The interactions during the social and cultural events are extremely wonderful. These are such that, through the vast number of respectable Iranian immigrants here who are loyal to Iran, we do have absolutely fantastic one-on-one interaction with a great many of them.
Q11: What steps are being taken in order to preserve and nurture the Iranian culture in Canada by the Consulate (Iranian Cultural Center)? What are the priorities of the Consulate in this matter?
A: In this regard we have worked extremely hard to preserve Iranian identity and culture through the Consulate and other public gatherings. The opening of Persian Heritage Centers and further supporting them, making available Persian classes and lessons, exchange programs to send students and scholars/professors from Canada to Iran in order to increase their scientific knowledge, organizing international conventions and conferences, poetry recitals, Persian literature, organizing national religious gatherings such as Noruz and Moharam, film festival weeks and cultural weeks in important Canadian cities. Different art, history and Iranian civilization shows and……inviting Iranian classical musicians to perform at different events, supplying public libraries located in Iranian neighborhoods with books in Farsi, providing Persian books for all the centers in different cities in Canada, spreading and supporting our relationship with the large Iranian-Canadian community, and supporting all the cultural and artistic gatherings of Iranians.
Q12: Are Iranian residents connected to Iranian community centers in their area?
A: As I previously pointed out, in order to familiarize the newer generations of Iranians with their Persian-Islamic identity and heritage, Iranian residents have had, and still have, a vast number of programs available to them. The majority of these programs is achieved by cultural gatherings through Islamic centers in parallel with the cooperation of Canadian cultural centers.
Q13: Lastly, can you make any recommendations for the betterment of Iranians residing in Canada?
A: To this question I can say that by 2031 the total immigrant population of Canada will increase by 64%, and that the number of Iranians will increase due to birthrate. So therefore, we need to put into effect very concentrated cultural programs in order to enhance and nurture the culture in this fast-growing population. It is obvious that this large Iranian population can only be of service to our beloved Iran through these programs and gatherings.
Second, the Iranian community, while maintaining its Islamic and Persian cultural roots, can survive as an elite community and resist being melted into the dominant Canadian culture only if it aspires to occupy high-level and key positions. This would not be possible in any way other than by arming their children with a high level of education and preparing them for cultural survival in Canada.
Translation from Persian to English by: Shadi Paveh and Shabnam Assadollahi